Click HERE to view our Vision 2050: Realising our Potential program outline

Opening Keynote Speaker – Paul Higgins

Paul Higgins is a Futurist and Strategist with Emergent Futures. He holds a First-Class Honours Degree in Veterinary Science, a Bachelor of Animal Science (Research) and a Masters Degree in Strategic Foresight.

Paul’s business experience has taught him that critical business decisions have as much impact on business success as long hours of focused execution. However he recognises that most people have little time to look around and think about what might be happening. Therefore the approaches that Emergent Futures uses align themselves to the reality of a fast moving, time critical modern world from quick scanning processes to longer strategic analysis.
His presentations match this approach and challenge audiences to look at their own blind spots and assumptions and look at the future differently.

Current work
Paul is experienced in politics and agri-politics having been President of Victorian Country Labor for five years and Chairman of the pork industry national body for a decade. He is also an experienced commercial company director including being a director of Auspork for 16 years. Auspork is an unlisted public company with an annual turnover of $80-100 million that markets pork, beef, chicken and lamb, including branded retail ready packs of ready to cook meat products. He has also served on a number of not for profit boards.

Paul is a graduate of the Leadership Victoria Program and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Paul is a venture philanthropy partner at Social Ventures Partners Melbourne. He is also a Chair of the Policy & Research Advisory Board for the Future Business Council and a Foresight Associate at the Melbourne University Business School.
Paul writes and presents regularly on future disruptions to business models and consults to a range of organisations on how to think about and plan for the future.

He is currently co-authoring two books. This first is “Scenarios for the Future of Electric Cars in Australia”, the second is on the future of driverless vehicles entitled: Is Driverless Always More? – How driverless vehicles will transform our economies and our societies.


The TFFPN is member-driven, and we are always keen to hear from industry.

Each of our panel discussions is designed to be interactive and our facilitator will be encouraging questions from the floor on the day. We will record discussions through a visual scribe, who will graphically illustrate ideas and themes explored by delegates. From this, the Network will seek to develop actions which it will bring back to industry for feedback. 

Have a burning question on growth, innovation, investment or people? Make sure you’re in the room on 21 September! 

Register here: Registration – Tasmanian Forest and Forest Products Network (

Panel 1: Why plant a tree? 

Melanie Conomikes, Arboricultural Program Officer, Bushland, Biodiversity and Waterways – City of Hobart

Mel Conomikes is a Consulting Arborist and Horticulturalist with over 20 years’ experience.  She inspects, plans, protects and promotes the arboricultural assets in the City of Hobart’s Urban Forest estate. She has worked in urban forestry and landscape-scale native vegetation management in Australia and Southern California. Mel has a Masters in Applied Science (Horticulture) from the University of Melbourne, Australia and was a founding board member of Tree San Diego, a non-profit dedicated to increasing quality tree canopy in urban areas.

Nick Flittner, Program Coordinator, Tamar NRM

Nick Flittner is Program Coordinator at Tamar NRM, and brings with him a long career in project management in a variety of industries in Tasmania. For many years Nick worked in education, and then he moved into community and regional development, business support and agriculture, among others. Nick has worked for a number of organisations across Tasmania, including the Cradle Coast Authority, Northern Tasmania Development, the University of Tasmania and the Tasmanian and Farmers and Graziers Association. Nick has lived in the north of Tasmania since he moved to the state in 1996, and after nearly 20 years on a farm near Deloraine, now lives in Launceston.

Andrew Morton, Managing Director Asia Pacific (AU), Indufor

Andrew Morton has a Bachelor of Science (Forestry) (Hons) from ANU and a MBA from UWA.

Andrew has over 30 years’ experience in forest and plantation activities in temperate and tropical environments and provides specialist advice in management structuring for forest and plantation managers, investors and owners for private and public agencies. He regularly advises major multinational investors and owners in the forest sector, including roles as strategic and review advisor in carrying out due diligence on the major Australasian forest and wood products transactions.

Andrew has wide experience in policy and commercial assessment in the forests and wood products sector.  This includes expert roles in relation to legal proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia, the Supreme Courts of New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, and acting as independent arbitrator to forest sector contracting disputes.

With work completed through Asia Pacific, Andrew has an in-depth knowledge in respect to a wide range of natural and plantation forest management systems

Mark Rogers, Senior Managing Director, ANZ & US, New Forests

Mark Rogers is responsible for managing the Australia-New Zealand and US (ANZUS) businesses and overseeing the investments in all product lines in those regions. Mark manages a team of dedicated professionals in forestry operations, acquisitions, and financial analytics for ANZUS with a key focus on client service and investment excellence.

He has over 25 years’ experience in real asset sales and acquisition, regulation, greenfields project development, and finance. Mark is a member of several New Forests’ Investment Committees and operating company boards. He has also had extensive experience as a Non-Executive Director on numerous other real asset companies. Mark has a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Economics, and a Masters of Law from the Australian National University in Australia, and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Penny Wells, Chief Executive Officer, Private Forests Tasmania

Penny has over more than thirty years’ experience in the forestry sector in Tasmania, having been involved in forest planning, policy and management with both the Tasmanian Government and forest industry since the late 1980s. During this time, she has been joint owner of a small family sawmill (processing special species timbers), has worked with land management and development agencies within the Tasmanian Government, worked with Forestry Tasmania as a forest planner and is now the CEO of Private Forests Tasmania.

Panel 2: Innovation is everyone’s job. How do we do it better in forestry?

David Bartlett¸ General Manager, Business Development and Strategy, Sustainable Timber Tasmania

Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s General Manager Business Development and Strategy David Bartlett is an experienced leader with a passion for economic and social development, technology and disruptive change. As a member of STT’s executive leadership team, David is responsible for protecting STT’s commercial interests. He is a keen sponsor of STT’s investment in innovation, including carbon, digitisation of core processes, use of IoT technology and Natural Capital .

David is highly experienced in regulated industries, public and not for profit entities and all levels of government having held senior executive positions, board roles and been an adviser to corporations and governments. Prior to joining STT in 2017 David was a Director with NAB’s Institutional Bank covering the Victorian and Tasmanian governments, and was a member of NAB’s Corporate Bank leadership team responsible for business performance, strategy, and national operations. His not for profit board experience includes serving as President and Chair of Carers Victoria and Chair of Audit and Risk for Carers Tasmania. He is currently Chair of Newood Holdings and a non-executive Director with the Tasmanian Timber Promotion Board

David is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Tas) and Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies (UK).

Andrew Morgan, Managing Director, SFM Environmental Solutions

An innovative and experienced entrepreneurial business leader, Andrew Morgan is the Managing Director of SFM Environmental Solutions a forestry and natural resource management company operating Australia-wide since 2001. Born in Burnie, he moved to Hobart to study a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Botany and Zoology at the University of Tasmania. Andrew has been providing consulting and management services across the forest industry for nearly three decades with over 20 years of these in the plantation and natural resources sectors of Australia.

Andrew has developed skills over his vast career and broad experience ranging from on the ground expertise to board room leadership. Being a networker and strategic thinker, Andrew alongside his business partner David Wise have grown their forestry management company SFM Environmental Solutions to be one of the leading independent forest managers operating in Australia. SFM is also the parent company of Hydrowood, an Australian first initiative salvaging exotic timber species from hydro impoundments in Tasmania; demonstrating the innovative, dynamic and committed approach to sustainable forestry Andrew has.

Prof Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra, Professor of Forest Sciences, Director of the ARC Centre for Forest Value, and Head of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania.

Julianne has collaborated closely with the forest industries on co-designed innovative research projects for 20 years and overseen delivery of research projects across the full industry value chain. More recently, Julianne has worked closely with AFPA as the University lead on the plan to establish a National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI), headquartered in Tasmania.

Mike Ross, Founder &
Chief Executive Officer, Indicium Dynamics

Mike is the founder and CEO of Indicium Dynamics.

He has worked in the IT industry for more than 20 years and has extensive experience in designing and building complex and critical IT systems. Mike has specialised in the development of high-availability and high-use systems and has been working with time-series-based information for the majority of his career. Specifically, Mike has designed systems for remote telemetry and in-field data sampling for the Forest and Utilities sectors utilising the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Peter Walker, Director, Cumulus Studio

Peter uses design to better understand the world around him. Insatiably curious, he sees each project as a chance to dive into something new, be it place, culture, material or experience.

In 2011 Peter was awarded the Australian Timber Design Awards, Rising Star 2011 Award as a leading Architect in the use of Timber. Later in 2016 Cumulus was awarded the National Timber Vision Awards Travel Bursary Prize for the most innovative and varied use of timber across a range of projects. The bursary funded our directors’ study tour of Japan to examine the traditional and contemporary use of timber in architecture and has influenced a range of our active and completed projects.

Cumulus has developed a significant portfolio of award-winning Tasmanian timber based projects including the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, Pumphouse Point, Devils Corner, Lady Gowrie Hobart and the Bento Japanese Restaurant fit-outs. Cumulus’ timber projects have been featured in articles on sites such as,, and

Panel 3: Why invest in the Tasmanian forest sector?

Simon Ancher, Owner/Director, Simon Ancher Studio

Simon was born Newcastle and moved to Hobart with his family as a young child. After completing his secondary School education at Hutchins Simon undertook a GAP year predominantly in Cleveland America, then onto England, Wales, Scotland and Tokyo. Upon returning to Tasmania Simon completed a bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Furniture Design with first class Honours.

In 2000, he established his own design practise and worked out of the Designer Makers Co-Op (now DoT). In 2003 Simon moved to Launceston to study Architecture and also teach in the University’s Education Department. At the end of 4th year Simon Accepted a fulltime position within the School of Education running the Materials, Design and Technology course. A year later he was the new Head of the Australian School of Fine Furniture (2006).

After a successful 12 years with the University of Tasmania, Simon decided to leave the institution and embark on working as a fulltime designer and maker. Together with his talented wife Lisa they launched Simon Ancher Studio which operates from Herbert St Invermay and they currently employ four staff.

Ralph Belperio, Major Project Director, Aurecon

Ralph Belperio is a Major Projects Director with more than 36 years’ experience in the design, documentation and delivery of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential buildings and developments

Ralph has developed particular expertise in the repurposing of old buildings, including those with very low concrete strengths.

Ralph leads Aurecon’s Timber Expertise capability globally, having worked with the timber industry across the breadth of his consulting career.  He is eminent in Mass Engineered Timber construction and has carried out research in glue laminated timber reinforced with carbon fibre.  His current area of research is considering the application of robotics in timber construction, culminating recently in a successful “proof of concept” at Murdoch University in Western Australia.

Rob de Fégely AM, Director, Margules Groome Consulting

Rob de Fégely is a Director of Margules Groome Consulting Pty Ltd a forestry consulting company based in Australia and New Zealand.  In addition, he is Chair of the Commonwealth Governments Forest Industry Advisory Council (FIAC) and Chair of the Board of Sustainable Timber Tasmania and a Director of Forestry Corporation of NSW.  He is a past President of the Institute of Foresters of Australia (now Forestry Australia) and an Advisory Board Member of the Commonwealth Forestry Association.  He has an interest in indigenous forest management and was the foundation Chair of Cape York Timber. He has worked in plantations and natural forests over 40 years and undertaken projects in every state and territory in Australia and throughout New Zealand and the Asia Pacific. He specialises in governance and industry strategy and investment. He is a Registered Professional Forester with a BSc (Forestry) from the Australian National University and an MSc from Aberdeen University in the UK. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

David Rowlinson, Campaign Manager, Make It Wood

David studied Architecture and Building Engineering in the UK and also has an MBA from MGSM and a Master of Marketing from UNSW. He manages Planet Ark’s Make It Wood campaign, which aims to increase the use of responsibly sourced wood as a building material. Prior to joining Planet Ark David was CEO of a major Sydney-based building products manufacturer, and is also a judge on the Australian Timber Design Awards and the Banksia Foundation’s NSW Sustainability Awards.

Rayne van den Berg, Chief Financial Officer, Forico

As Chief Financial Officer for Forico, Rayne van den Berg is a critical member of an executive team delivering transformative leadership in forestry and asset management.

During her leadership of Forico’s corporate services team, the company has set new benchmarks with its Natural Capital Reporting, which has met acclaim worldwide. This year, the report will continue to shift the paradigm forwards with a third rendition which will include Social and Human Capital metrics to enhance Forico’s corporate sustainability story.

As the Forico embarks upon a period of diversification and growth, Rayne’s expertise will be central in the developmental thinking needed to shape-shift the company to a broader asset management model driven by value-based decision-making.

On a personal level, Rayne has a passionate commitment to climate positive and nature positive solutions for the future, and true inclusivity for communities.

Panel 4: Without people, we don’t have an industry. How do we attract and retain the right workforce for the future?

Lauren Carter, General Manager, JCH Harvest

Lauren is the General Manager of a first generation forestry harvesting business, established In 2016 by her partner Jacob Hughes. Formerly from educational leadership, Lauren has worked through in the areas of human resource, mentoring, training and staffing profiles.

Lauren manages JCH group, companies delivering highly efficient, safe, productive, and environmentally conscious harvesting outcomes. Strategic vision is seeing the company focussed on their ESG lens and their long-term planning and implementation while meeting demand. The company has aimed to train and maintain highly skilled individuals in the sector and promote long term sustainable futures. There is a strong and well communicated ethos and belief that operators are niche in what they do and specific in their training requirements. Lauren and the JCH team see training and retention as a considered management of operator personal need and professional needs while maintaining overarching production KPI’s and principles.

Linda Crawford, People and Culture Manager, Sustainable Timber Tasmania

Linda Crawford is an experienced HR professional and advocate for diversity and inclusion. Linda has over 20 years’ people leadership experience and has worked with some of Australia’s best known brands including QANTAS, Vodafone and Services Australia. Linda is a qualified leadership coach, she has worked as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mentor with the Jawun program and she currently provides career coaching to emerging leaders within the Tasmanian community.

Linda has a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Certificate of Business from the University of Tasmania, and is currently the People and Culture Manager at Sustainable Timber Tasmania.

Dom Meli, Director, People At Their Best

Dom has held senior human resources and industrial relations positions for organisations such as BHP, during which time he successfully managed the resolution of significant disputes, the negotiation of employee agreements and drove performance improvement and change programs.

Over the past 20 years, Dom has established himself as a trusted adviser and innovative consultant helping organisations to develop, define and deploy strategies which have driven organisational performance. (For the past 4 years, Dom has been indulging his love of Tasmania, helping businesses like Forico).

Many of the initiatives Dom has introduced were inspired by studies in the USA, where he examined change programs, non-traditional approaches to workplace organisation and communication programs. During this time Dom spent time at Harvard, MIT, Caterpillar, Du Pont and IBM.

Dom holds a Bachelor of Economics from Sydney University along with certifications in EI, Coaching, CBT and whole brain thinking. Dom is a member of the International Positive Psychology Association and alumni of Mt Eliza Business College.

Chris Crerar, Fundraising and Communications Officer, Reconciliation Tasmania

It was while working out of Adelaide as a photographer with the Australian newspaper that Chris decided he wanted to make a contribution towards reconciliation.  He traveled to many Aboriginal communities and met people whose lives were often ‘out of sight and mind’ for many Australians. Along with his  colleagues, Chris visited thriving and struggling Aboriginal communities – some with almost 100% employment. On returning home to Tasmania, Chris saw The Nightingale film and read Nicholas Clement’s The Black War. This solidified his will to act.

Chris has been Reconciliation Tasmania’s Fundraising and Communications Coordinator for nearly three years.

Reconciliation Tasmania works with the 97 per cent of Tasmanians who are non-Aboriginal, in bringing attention and acceptance to the truth of Australia’s shared history, and how this knowledge can generate better understandings of issues such as intergenerational trauma for First Nations peoples. It also works with businesses and organisations in assisting them conceive and implement their Reconciliation Action Plans, as they work towards creating meaningful and practical reconciliation contributions. Importantly though, Reconciliation Tasmania walks alongside Aboriginal Tasmanians as allies, facilitators and advocates, as they continue their journey towards understanding, justice, respect and recognition.

Toby Thorpe, climate advocate and  Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year 2021

Toby is a world-renowned leader in the space of youth leadership, empowerment and climate advocacy. Committing a career of eight years so far to the development of future leaders across sectors to unlock solutions to the climate crisis, Toby was recognised as a recipient of a Young Australian of the Year Award in Tasmania after directly impacting over 80,000 young people across the globe. From winning a global innovation prize in the UAE, to the halls of the UN in Poland, Spain, and Scotland, to classrooms in Indonesia, Hungary and Fiji, Toby is championing his cause to shift the narrative on climate change every day, in every corner of the planet.

Barb Walters, CEO, Rural Alive and Well

Barb brings a wealth of knowledge to our organisation as Chief Executive Officer. She holds Diplomas in Management and Marketing, Events and Public Relations, and has 16 years’ experience in the community service sector with over 10 years’ experience in senior management roles. Barb was recognised as the 2013 Young Professional of the Year by the Launceston Chamber of Commerce, and was State Finalist for the Telstra Business Women’s Award in 2014 and 2017. A saw miller’s daughter, Barb understands the importance of the Tasmanian timber industry and the challenges that come with it.